The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has hit back at accusations from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling that it may have misled the UK government over the potential impact of a reduction in stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The Campaign made the claims following a report by NERA Economic Consulting, which suggested that lowering staking limits on FOBTs might only lead to between 700-1,200 retail betting shop closures – while the ABB had estimated that up to 7,900 would be ‘at risk’ in a submission during a consultation last year. Somewhat confusingly, NERA claimed that these closures would ‘balance out’ as it would increase commerce in other shops.
NERA concluded that the recently increased tax rate from 20 to 25 per cent would produce a minor impact on whqat it suggested was the socio-economic cost of FOBT related problem gambling.
Funder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling Derek Webb, who made his fortune in the land-based casino industry, said: “This NERA report shows how self-serving the ABB report is. There is some risk to industry corporate profits, senior staff bonuses and share prices, but the risk to individual shops and staff has been dramatically over-stated.”
ABB spokesperson Peter Craske countered the claims: “98per cent of all responses to the [government] consultation backed no changes to stakes and prizes in betting shops and the Government decided to make no changes.
“It is hardly a surprise that anti-betting shop campaigners are now rowing back and trying to claim their demands would see fewer jobs lost than would actually be lost, but the 1,200 shop closures they believe will happen would still mean 7,200 real people losing real jobs.”